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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 16, 22, 1:18 pm
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Last edit by: yowcat
This wiki will attempt to cover the ability to access various lounges operated by AC. Since many travellers are not familiar with the layout of Canadian airports, we will detail both physical access as well as rules.


Overview of lounges

AC has three types of lounges:
  • Maple Leaf Lounges (MLLs): essentially, regular lounges
  • Caf: caf-style lounge with limited access and grab-and-go
  • Signature Suites: essentially, only for long-haul international business class passengers
Additionally, AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR for eligible customers.

Locations & Physical Access

Lounges are in the following locations:



Note that most of the Canadian airports used by AC have separate areas for domestic, transborder ("TB", i.e. to the US), and international flights. MLLs are often referred to based on which area of the terminal theyre in, e.g. YYZ Dom is the domestic lounge in YYZ, YUL Intl is the international lounge at YUL. Except when connecting from a domestic flight to a TB/international one, you can only use a lounge in the area from which your flight departs. For instance, a passenger flying from YYZ to LGA cannot use the YYZ Dom MLL as CATSA will not allow them to access the domestic wing; a passenger flying YXE-YYZ-LGA could use the YYZ Dom MLL as they will already be in the domestic area on arrival.

YYZ, YVR, and YUL have segregated international departures areas. The international MLLs cannot be accessed before domestic flights. In other locations, a "domestic" MLL can also be accessed before international flights.

Please note that while the US is a separate country, it is NOT an "international" destination in the way most Canadian airports and AC are set up. You can NEVER access the international lounges when departing on a flight to the US. (Passengers connecting in YVR between a domestic and US flight and following the connections path will enter the international departures area prior to the US area and although can physically access the international MLL, you will not be admitted and will be directed to the US area).

Lounges in transborder areas are after US customs pre-clearance, and can only be accessed by customers travelling to the US.


Access Rules

MLLs

Can be accessed for customers holding a SAME DAY DEPARTING boarding pass (for a flight operated by AC or another *A member) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 35K (domestic and transborder only; no guests; until June 1 2023 - no access on or after)
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (spouse/partner, dependent children, and one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • VA Velocity Platinum or Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class (on AC or another *A carrier)
    • Premium rouge (on flights within Canada, to the U.S and Sun destinations, indicated by cabin code J on your boarding pass)
  • Passes (passes may only be valid for certain locations, e.g. domestic/TB - Assume your pass is not valid for any International Lounge)
    • Given out to those with AC status
    • Given out to certain credit card holders
    • Purchased directly from AC as an add-on to the flight, either in advance or at the lounge
  • Credit cards (no passes required, only for MLLs located within Canada and the US. No access to LHR, CDG, or FRA lounges):
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards

Domestic Lounges can also be accessed by those ARRIVING on an Air Canada Mainline, Rouge or Express flight, for those holding 50K status and higher.


Signature Suites

Signature Suites require both (a) an eligible fare and (b) an eligible destination. Your flight must be a flight operated by Air Canada that is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver. It doesnt matter whether you bought the ticket through AC or if youre on an AC codeshare, or if your itinerary has other international connections. Unless your flight is operated by Air Canada, and is advertised as Signature Class, and is departing internationally from Toronto or Vancouver, youre not eligible.

Eligible fares:
  • Paid business class (originally booked in J, C, D, Z, or P classes)
  • Business Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets
  • First Class (Flexible) Aeroplan tickets when travelling on an Air Canada segment in Business Class
  • Emirates First Class (one guest)

Eligible destinations
  • South America (Colombia and south)
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand

NOT accessible to:
  • Passengers in business class on any type of upgrades (eUpgrades, Last-Minute Upgrades, bid upgrades, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards)
  • Anyone booked in Business Class (Lowest) reward tickets - this includes any rewards ticketed by an Aeroplan partner, e.g. United MileagePlus, Miles & More, etc)
  • Passengers flying internationally with Air Canada, but who are not departing on an International Air Canada flight from Toronto or Vancouver. Example, if you are arriving on an International flight, but connecting to a US or domestic flight - you will NOT have access to the suite.

Cafe

Can be accessed by those with a departing domestic boarding pass (no arrivals benefit for the Cafe) based on:
  • Status
    • Aeroplan 50K and up (one guest)
    • Star Alliance Gold (one guest)
    • Emirates SkyWards Platinum or Gold (one guest)
  • Class of service:
    • Business class
    • Premium rouge
  • Credit cards:
    • TD VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • CIBC VIP (one guest through 31 December 2023)
    • Amex Aeroplan Reserve cards
Passengers arriving on a domestic flight with a connection to a US or international destination, although you can physically access the cafe, you will not be admitted. eGates have been updated to enforce the access policy.

LHR Arrivals Lounge

AC shares an arrivals lounge with UA at LHR, accessible to the following customers upon exiting the baggage hall in Terminal 2:
  • Business Class
  • Aeroplan Super Elite (one guest) when arriving on an Air Canada flight.
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AC Lounge Access - physical locations and rules (2022 onwards)

Old Aug 28, 22, 8:01 pm
  #181  
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: LAX
Programs: AC SE, UA Silver, Bonvoy Titanium
Posts: 236
Originally Posted by RangerNS View Post
How do you get that from the wording of the Cafe rules? Or do you have experience?
experience
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Old Aug 28, 22, 11:14 pm
  #182  
 
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Are flights to MEX considered TB or Intl for lounge purposes (assume its the latter)?
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Old Aug 28, 22, 11:20 pm
  #183  
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TB is only US.
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Old Aug 29, 22, 1:04 pm
  #184  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: YYJ
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So I just entered the Cafe, and the agent didn't look up from her desk. I used the automated gates for entry.
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Old Aug 30, 22, 9:41 pm
  #185  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: LHR / YYZ
Programs: AC SE
Posts: 3,724
Lounge Access Day (<24 Hours) Before Flight

Bit of an unusual question:

I'm flying out of LHR on the morning of 1 Sep. Booked myself a landside airport hotel for the night before to avoid an early morning rush across London. Then got to thinking:

Since I'll be checked in 24 hours before the flight, traveling with no checked bags, and already at the airport, could I theoretically clear security and use the MLL (or another Star lounge) at T2 for a few hours on 31 Aug, exit the airside area to use the hotel at night, and return the next morning for my flight?

Has anyone ever tried this? Is it against the rules? Frowned upon? Thanks all.
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Old Aug 30, 22, 9:57 pm
  #186  
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Originally Posted by capedreamer View Post
Since I'll be checked in 24 hours before the flight, traveling with no checked bags, and already at the airport, could I theoretically clear security and use the MLL (or another Star lounge) at T2 for a few hours on 31 Aug, exit the airside area to use the hotel at night, and return the next morning for my flight?

Has anyone ever tried this? Is it against the rules? Frowned upon?
You don't hold a same day boarding pass, so no, you're not eligible for lounge access.

Not to mention LHR security is highly unlikely to let you into the secured area at all.
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Old Aug 30, 22, 10:32 pm
  #187  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: LHR / YYZ
Programs: AC SE
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Originally Posted by Adam Smith View Post
You don't hold a same day boarding pass, so no, you're not eligible for lounge access.

Not to mention LHR security is highly unlikely to let you into the secured area at all.
I see. Thank you!
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Old Aug 30, 22, 11:22 pm
  #188  
 
Join Date: May 2022
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by The Lev View Post
If he is a secondary card holder yes, otherwise you will have to pay a guest fee (I believe $20) to have him admitted.

Per the small print in the card rules: "A Primary Cardholder and Additional Cardholder(s) are each entitled to complimentary access to any Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge located in Canada and the United States, including International Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges in Canada and the United States when travelling on an international itinerary. Access excludes Air Canada Signature Suites and lounges operated by third parties, such as Star Alliance member airlines. Guests of Primary Cardholders or Additional Cardholders may enter upon paying an applicable fee."

If you had the Amex version, you could bring a guest for free and the CIBC card has that benefit up until the end of this year.
While technically true, I took in a guest without a fee to the YYZ and YVR MLLs and the Cafe this weekend with the TD VIP and no status.
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Old Sep 6, 22, 5:54 pm
  #189  
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Wiki updated to reflect the new benefit for VA Platinum/Gold members.

On another note, no one has commented on whether we should maintain the separate mixed cabin and arrivals threads apart from this new overall thread on access questions... I'm inclined to move the recent posts here and end those threads so as to make an easy one-stop shop for lounge access questions, but am also mindful of the feedback regarding mega-threads... Those who prefer to provide feedback privately are welcome to do so via PM or e-mail.
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Old Sep 6, 22, 5:59 pm
  #190  
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I'm not even sure we have consensus on mixed cabin bookings. There have been contradictory examples provided in the timeframe covered by this thread. It seems it's more of a YOLO.

Access on arrival is pretty straightforward. If you're 50K+, you can access any domestic or transborder MLL on arrival.
canadiancow is online now  
Old Sep 7, 22, 2:14 am
  #191  
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 629
I think I am far too late to the game... I thought YVR had an AC arrivals lounge, but the only references I can find to it are 1.5 decades old. Is there any lounge like space available for someone arriving international without an onward connection?
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Old Sep 7, 22, 2:27 am
  #192  
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No. Air Canada does not operate any lounges that can be accessed after an international (excluding TB into the US) arrival with no onward flight.
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Old Sep 7, 22, 10:21 am
  #193  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Calgary, AB
Programs: AC: E75K, Marriott :Titanium, National: EXEC ELITE
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Its really time for AC to look at access rules. Ive stood in more lines this summer to access the MLL than ever before. In fact, I cant think of a pre-pandemic time that I had to wait, even as a lowly 50K.

Either cut off the 35Ks or find a way to prioritize access, starting with SE and paid J and work your way back from there. As the lounge approaches capacity, you start cutting off access at the bottom sorry, we are at capacity for passes, CC and 35K access

I had that exact experience at the Westjet Elevation in YYC last week, and I was fine with it. Looking for access off my CC, and they politely said they were at capacity for 3rd party guests. No problem.

And looking at the riff raft in YVR right nowin the immortal words of Shooter McGavingo back to your shanties!

Woeful.
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Old Sep 14, 22, 12:47 am
  #194  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
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Restrict the place to Star Alliance Gold and J passengers and the place will be tranquil again.

Last edited by c224488; Sep 14, 22 at 1:30 pm
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Old Sep 14, 22, 1:27 am
  #195  
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Originally Posted by c224488 View Post
Restrict the place to Star Alliance Gold and the place will be tranquil again.
You mean deny business class? The existence of the Signature Suite tells you that's never going to happen.
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